The Tusken raider froze, its gaderffii raised above the prone form of Luke Skywalker. Its braying victory honk did not echo from the walls of the canyon, though, because the word pause hovered just to the left of the rock behind which Skywalker had fallen.
Ashima looked across the room at Jake. “Repeat that.”
Jake did not return her look, but kept his eyes on the screen. When the image there showed no signs of returning to motion, he said quietly, “It’s all sort of stupid.”
“That’s your considered opinion of a film that shifted paradigms and has been hailed for years by millions of fans as a benchmark of science fiction entertainment?” She raised a quizzical eyebrow.
Jake shifted in his chair. “Not the whole movie. Just this bit. I mean… why would anyone live on Tatooine?”
Ashima leaned forward, drawing breath to argue the point. The brief delay brought uncertainty to her face. “What do you mean?”
Jake waved a hand at the screen. “The whole planet is a desert, right? But it’s crawling with all sorts of intelligent species. Sure, the Tuskens and the Jawas are from there, somehow, but there’s humans, Jabba the Hutt, all those creeps at the cantina… hell, there’s a whole spaceport in Mos Eisley. What do they export? Sand?”
“Just because the backstory isn’t laid out doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I mean, you might drive through some little town in Australia and say, ‘This makes no sense, people living here,’ because you don’t know there’s a huge opal mine under it.”
“Maybe. But the whole point of Tatooine is that it’s a galactic backwater. That’s why Ben Kenobi went there, right? To hide. I mean, the rebels going to Hoth made sense, because no one with half a brain would go there– Tatooine should be the same. If there was something there that made an otherwise crappy planet worth settling, you’d think it would come up at some point.” Jake reached for the lidded cup beside his chair and took a drag on the straw.
“Well,” Ashima said, with some distain, “you’ve clearly never read about the big mining boom on Tatooine….”
“Wrong!” Jake shot back, smiling, “I have, and it doesn’t help. That Tatooine mining thing doesn’t make any sense at all– a big influx of settlers to explore for minerals, and then it’s all ‘oh, geez, looks like there’s nothing good here?’ You don’t get a gold rush until someone actually finds gold. It wasn’t the Great Yukon Pyrite Rush, was it? Anyway, that’s just some stuff geeks made up to try and explain the basic dumbness of having cities on Tatooine.”
Ashima crossed her arms, the control still in her hand. She was not looking at Jake or the screen, but somewhere between them, apparently marshalling a counter-argument. Jake pressed his attack.
“It’s just not a well thought-out economy, is what I’m saying. Look at what Luke’s uncle does.”
“Moisture farming? That’s going to be pretty valuable in a desert.”
Jake waved a hand. “It’s dumb! The whole planet is dry, right? How sustainable is wringing what water there is out of the air? They’ve got spaceships with hyperdrive! They can bring in a whole ice-moon if they want water.”
“Let me see if I’ve got this clear,” Ashima said, unfolding her arms. “You object to Tatooine being inhabited because no one would go there except at gunpoint.”
Jake nodded. Ashima pressed a button on the controller. The window behind her depolarized, revealing the harsh light and sharp shadows of the airless grey landscape outside the dwelling. “So what are we doing on this rock, then?”
There was another pause. Jake had the grace to put a sheepish tone into his response, almost making it into a question. “Sixth-layer redundancy against failure of automatic systems.”
“Yuh-huh.” The window became a black mirror again. “Can we watch the rest of this classic of ancient cinema without overthinking it, please?”
The Tusken yarked its warrior yark. In a couple of minutes, Ben Kenobi would use his mystical powers to frighten it and its companions away, like the wizard he was.
The discussion between Ashima and Jake in “Suspension of Disbelief” is ©2016 Dirck de Lint, who definitely does not claim to hold any rights to Star Wars or its various original characters and locations.